As we take a look back at this past Sunday’s message from Pastor John, my thoughts are filled with the story of Ruth and how in Naomi’s despair and not being able to see much past her difficult circumstance, she changed her name to Mara, which means bitter.
By changing her name to Mara, Naomi was bringing her inward life and feelings out into the open. She was openly confessing her state of being as life being bitter. Her name went from meaning “pleasant” to meaning “bitter” as was reflective of her life and how she felt. She did not hide but rather brought out into the open what was plain. And through the story, we find God’s providence towards the bitter Naomi. Yet, she did not turn away from God.
I also find of great value in the first verse of Ruth saying there was a great famine in the land, and as it seems, a great famine in Naomi’s life: the death of her sons coinciding with the famine throughout the land. Yet, as fate would have it, God lead her and Ruth back into the land Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means – “the house of bread,” exactly where there would be no famine.
As plain as the story is, we find God’s hand all over the life of Naomi and Ruth. And as we see from afar, we can empathize with their pain, just like many of us have some sort of pain or famine in our life. Yet, as God would have it, He is directing our paths and showing breadcrumbs back into Bethlehem, “the house of bread.” Where we may despair, and where we may not be able to see hope or a better future, what we often find when looking back and from afar is that God is yet at work. In these situations, we should not only ask “why God, are you doing this to me?” but rather “What God, would you have me see or learn in this season?”
While we would all love for our lives and for God’s will to be revealed clearly in our lives, we find that moments like that happen far less than we would like. It is much more akin to walking in the dark, with only a little light to guide our way. However, that little light, gives us just enough for us to take the next step, and then the next, and then the next. So rather than us seeking to understand everything fully, let us rather walk together, discerning what we all see God doing rather than what He is NOT doing. It is ok to mourn. It is ok to even change your name or identity to better reflect the state of your soul, but let us not forget that God is desirous to bring us into a better place of his design, and not necessarily our own plans or ideas.
On that note: I want to personally invite you to Night of Worship this Saturday where we will be worshiping together from 5-6 pm in song, in word, and in prayer about what God may be speaking to us about our own souls and circumstance. We will continue to share and eat together afterwards with a BBQ because it is our desire and hope that we not only listen, but allow God’s truth to penetrate our lives. God’s desire is that like Naomi and Ruth, as they sought God’s will that was shared and discerned together, in the presence of others also speaking truth, and responding to one another in truth that leads to life. That is our hope so please join us this Saturday.